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A weekly roundup of news, trends and insights designed exclusively for security professionals. This publication is intended for security staff only.

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In this issue — August 24, 2016

  • Chinese Woman Gets 50 Months for Jet Engine Export Plot
  • OIG report scolds NRC for handling of classified information
  • Sunni Extremists Said to Be Infiltrating U.S.
  • 42 percent of Americans feel less safe from terrorism than before 9/11
  • Cybercrime Will Cost the World $6 Trillion by 2021
  • Yes, the NSA Got Hacked
  • Sailor Gets Year in Prison for Nuclear Sub Photos
  • NSA’s Hoard of Cyber Weapons Makes Some Nervous
  • IG Reminds DoD of Access Control Weakness
  • Researchers Warn of Spy Campaign Targeting Industrial Organizations
  • Report: ‘Urgent’ Need for New National Security Space Policies

Chinese Woman Gets 50 Months for Jet Engine Export Plot (Info Security, 8/23/16)

A California woman of Chinese birth has been sentenced to over four years in prison after being found guilty of conspiring to export jet engines and drone technology to the People’s Republic.  Wenxia Man, aka Wency Man, 45, of San Diego, was hit with a 50-month jail term following her conviction by a federal jury on one count of conspiring to export and cause the export “of defense articles” without the required license.

These items are currently banned for sale to China under the terms of the Arms Export Control Act.  Man is said to have conspired with a man working for the Chinese military to illegally get hold of various pieces of high-tech equipment including Pratt & Whitney F135-PW-100 engines used in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter; Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 turbofan engines used in the F-22 Raptor fighter jet; and the missile-carrying $50 million General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper/Predator B UAV. More

OIG report scolds NRC for handling of classified information (Generation Hub, 8/23/16)

The Office of Inspector General issued a report Aug. 8 saying that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission currently lacks “clear and effective” agency-wide policy and procedures for national security systems. As a result, “classified information may be vulnerable or subject to unauthorized disclosure,” the OIG said in the report. The report carries two major recommendations. For starters, it says NRC should clarify policies and procedures over national security information systems “and assign responsibility for implementing these policies and procedures.”

Secondly, OIG called upon NRC to complete a comprehensive inventory of all national security information systems and review it at appropriate intervals. “NRC has national security systems that were operating without the required authorizations to operate, contrary to federal and internal requirements,” OIG said in the report. “This happened because agency wide policies and procedures governing national security systems were not clear or well understood. Without agency wide policies and procedures, classified information may be vulnerable or subject to unauthorized disclosure.” More

Sunni Extremists Said to Be Infiltrating U.S. (DC Free Beacon, 8/22/16)

Sunni extremists are infiltrating the United States with the help of alien smugglers in South America and are crossing U.S. borders with ease, according to a U.S. South Command intelligence report.  The Command’s J-2 intelligence directorate reported recently in internal channels that “special interest aliens” are working with a known alien smuggling network in Latin America to reach the U.S.  The smuggling network was not identified.

Army Col. Lisa A. Garcia, a Southcom spokeswoman, did not address the intelligence report directly but said Sunni terrorist infiltration is a security concern.  The infiltrators from terrorist states and unstable regions exploit vulnerabilities in commercial transportation systems and immigration enforcement agencies in some of the countries used for transit, Garcia said. More

Poll: 42 percent of Americans say they are less safe from terrorism than before 9/11 (Wash. Post, 8/22/16)

It’s been almost 15 years since about 3,000 people were killed in the deadliest terrorist attack on record. And in the years since Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. government has undertaken a variety of measures designed to prevent further terrorist attacks.But do Americans feel any safer? New polling data from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs gives us a resoundingly clear answer.

No, Americans do not feel safer. And they seem to have little hope that that will change anytime soon. The Chicago Council found that 42 percent of Americans feel that their country is less safe than it was before Sept. 11, 2001 — compared with 27 percent in a 2014 survey. And almost nine out of 10 (89 percent) argued that terrorism was at least somewhat likely to be a part of life in the future. More

Cybercrime Will Cost the World $6 Trillion by 2021 (CSO, 8/22/16)

Cybercrime will continue its stratospheric growth over the next five years, according to a recent report published by Cybersecurity Ventures.  While there are numerous contributors to the rise in cybercrime — which is expected to cost the world more than $6 trillion by 2021, up from $3 trillion in 2015 — the most obvious predictor is a massive expansion of the global attack surface which hackers target.

Data remains the primary hacker target.  Microsoft predicts that by 2020, data volumes online will be 50 times greater than today.  There are 111 billion lines of new software code being produced each year — which will include billions of vulnerabilities that can be exploited, according to research conducted by Secure Decisions. More

Yes, the NSA Got Hacked (NextGov, 8/20/16)

After a never­-before-­seen group announced it was in possession of a trove of malware developed by the elite hacking arm of the National Security Agency last week, researchers began working to try and determine whether the code the group released was truly developed by NSA.  Working off of hints they found in the code, which was released by a group calling itself Shadow Broker, researchers guessed it was authentic—but new documentation straight from the source appears to confirm the code’s provenance.

According to NSA documents reviewed by The Intercept, several elements in the released code line up with details in the agency’s own manuals and materials. More


Cyber Security Policies Fall Short on Results

A security policy is as good as the employees who follow it, right? A Cisco-commissioned study on data breaches reveals that many employees fail to adhere to security policies due to lack of understanding and poor communications from their security department.  Another study by Xerox found that more than half (54 percent) of employees don’t always follow their company’s security policies — leaving the security of sensitive data at heightened risk.

While formal security policies have their place, they are of little value unless employees understand their responsibilities and the rationale behind the rules.  So, how do you make sure that your organization’s information assets are protected? The first line of defense is employee awareness.  A more security-aware workforce can mean the difference between an employee preventing the next data breach, and becoming the next breach.  Don’t put your organization at risk.  Get SECURITYsense and build awareness quickly and affordably. To know more, click here


Sailor Gets Year in Prison for Nuclear Sub Photos (ABC News, 8/19/16)

A Navy sailor was sentenced Friday to a year in prison for taking photos of classified areas inside a nuclear attack submarine while it was in port in Connecticut.  Kristian Saucier, of Arlington, Vermont, appeared in federal court, where a judge also ordered him to serve six months of home confinement with electronic monitoring during a three-year period of supervised release after the prison time.

Saucier pleaded guilty in May to unauthorized detention of defense information and had faced five to six years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines.  Saucier admitted to taking six photos of classified areas inside the USS Alexandria in 2009 when it was in Groton and he was a 22-year-old machinist mate on the submarine. The photos showed the nuclear reactor compartment, the auxiliary steam propulsion panel, and the maneuvering compartment. More

IG Reminds DoD of Access Control Weakness (NextGov, 8/18/16)

The Defense Department inspector general reiterated a few shortcomings in the department’s cybersecurity stance as part of a review mandated by the 2015 Cybersecurity Act.  The legislation required federal inspectors general to report on the policies, procedures, and practices for securing computer networks and IT systems with emphasis on five key areas: logical access control policies and practices; use of multifactor authentication; software inventory; threat prevention; and contractor oversight.

The DoD IG report offered summaries, not assessments, of the policies the department has in place to address all five areas.  It also rehashed flaws in logical access controls it found in previous audits.  Problems included incomplete system access forms and inactive accounts hanging around after established timetables. More

Researchers Warn of Spy Campaign Targeting Industrial Organizations (Tripwire, 8/17/16)

Security researchers are warning of an espionage campaign, dubbed “Operation Ghoul,” heavily targeting organizations in the industrial, engineering, and manufacturing sectors.  Kaspersky Lab researchers said they had more recently observed new waves of attacks during June 2016.  High activity was specifically seen in the Middle East region, in addition to ongoing targeted attacks across multiple regions.

More than 130 organizations across the globe have been identified victims of Operation Ghoul, according to the firm.  The majority of targeted organizations are considered small-to-medium (SMB) companies (30-300 employees) associated with the “product life cycle of multiple goods, especially industrial equipment.” More

Report: ‘Urgent’ Need for New National Security Space Policies (Space News, 8/17/16)

The National Academies said there is an “urgent need” for the U.S. government to write new policies that shape how the Defense Department should respond to threats to American satellites.  The report came in response to a request from Congress in the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act to study the protection of national security satellites.

Pentagon and intelligence community officials have grown increasingly concerned in recent years about other nations’ abilities to attack satellites on-orbit.  This includes military and spy satellites as well as commercial satellites working with the Defense Department. More